What is your tutor up to? Jim Cowan

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Open House Collaboration

All over Britain art students of all ages are setting up end of year shows. From primary school to adult education, from higher education to post graduate, artworks are filling up boards for family and friends to view and assessors to scrutinise.
Open House studio exhibitions are a particularly popular way to show your work to the general public and this year I have signed up for the Richmond ARThouse Open Studio event.  
Decisions have to be made about what is suitable work to show given the wide range of audience taste and the tendency is to cater for a local audience. This strategy has worked well in the past but this year I decided to show a range of paintings and etchings with a predominant Russian theme and with London being an international city with a healthy proportion of Russians in residence, it seems like a good idea.
My pictures are influenced by a visit to St Petersburg and are in the form of a triptych.  Not having enough space to show them all meant that I have to concentrating on just one triptych and it also offered me the opportunity to collaborate with a friendly composer. As a matter of course I now record my paintings as they are being painted, which means that I can put together a movie showing how the painting progresses from start to finish.
For the painting ‘The St Petersburg Triptych’ I approached a composer friend and asked him to write a musical accompaniment. Edward McGuire is a well-known Scottish composer who has had a long time interest in all things Russian and having just had a piece performed at the famous Mariinsky Theatre was keen to do the job. With me in London and Eddie in Glasgow communication was by e- mail.
I first set up and assembled the individual photographs on Photoshop and then used iMovie to create the sequence. This meant that I could arrive at an approximate time for the amount of music required.  The first draft of the silent video was then e-mailed to Eddie to view and consider. Once the music was written he sent it back to me as a sound file using the computer programme Sibelius, which allows for any number of instruments to be used and heard. In my case a trio of violin, piano and clarinet was considered appropriate. I finally then had to rework the video to best fit the music and the collaboration was complete.

Both the original triptych and the iMovie will be on show at my Open Studio Exhibition held on 29 and 30 June from 11am – 6pm. OCA students especially welcome.           

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